Perak Sultan takes personal interest in saving Malayan tiger

IPOH: The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah, has taken a personal interest in ensuring the conservation of the threatened Malayan tiger.

His Royal Highness attended a closed-door dialogue today to enhance efforts to conserve the tiger in the Belum-Temengor Forest.

The ruler told the meeting that the Orang Asli living in that forest were key to the conservation of the tiger, according to WWF-Malaysia chief executive officer cum executive director Datuk Dr Dionysius S.K. Sharma.

Dr Sharma said the sultan called for numerous approaches to be undertaken to engage the Orang Asli directly at the highest level in the conservation effort.

"The sultan said they (the Orang Asli) are an important component in the Belum-Temengor forest and the best way must be found to determine the role they can play in conserving the tiger's habitat," he said to reporters after attending the dialogue.

The dialogue was also attended by Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and Wildlife and National Parks Department director-general Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim.

Dr Sharma said Sultan Nazrin Shah also said that the security forces should tighten control at the borders to thwart illegal hunting and trading of wildlife in the country.

"The ruler expressed concern and wanted the security forces such as the police and military and other relevant quarters to enforce security control to save the tiger.

Zambry said Perak had set the target of zero-hunting of the Malayan tiger in the state by 2020.

The efforts to achieve the target would not be left to the state government alone but encompass all quarters, including NGOs and the local community, he added.

"The state government has given priority to the conservation of the Malayan tiger because the biggest threat to the species is illegal hunting and trading by irresponsible people.

"Therefore, we have to find the best approach to achieve the target within the time frame set," he said.

On the dialogue, Zambry said the state government would study the proposals of WWF-Malaysia before implementing them to conserve the tiger, especially in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex.

"The dialogue is a platform to review the existing efforts and move towards more innovative resolutions in arriving at the zero-hunting in the state," he said.

Abdul Kadir said the number of tigers in the wild, according to a study by the department, was between 250 and 340.

He said the study, which started last year and would end in 2020 at the latest, cost RM80 million and came under the purview of the 11th Malaysia Plan.

The Belum-Temengor Forest Complex in Gerik, northern Perak, covering an area of about 3,000 sq km, is one of three sites for the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan.

It is estimated that about 40 tigers live in that forest complex. — Bernama